To say that proclaiming the gospel is an important aspect of the New Testament Scriptures would be an understatement. There are both examples of proclaiming the gospels and exhortations to proclaim the gospel found throughout the New Testament.
It is very important for those of us who are in Christ to remind each other and encourage each other about the good news of Jesus Christ! Extremely important.
However, in this short series, I want us to consider the proclamation of the gospel to unbelievers in the New Testament. Now, we know that the Epistles and Revelation were written to people who had already believed the gospel (to use Jesus’ words). They were already following Jesus and were already indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
But, what about the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and Acts? There are still arguments and discussions about whether these books were written for people who were not believers or for people who are already believers. To me, if we take John at face value, that Gospel was written (at least in part) for an audience of people who did not yet follow Jesus:
[T]hese are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 ESV)
When compared to the Epistles and Revelation, it is more likely that the Gospel of John and the other Gospels were written for an audience of unbelievers. If Luke also wrote Acts (and I believe he did) and if he wrote it to the same person and for the same reason, then we could also assume that the Book of Acts was written (at least in part) for an audience of unbelievers.
So, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, we find our best examples of how Jesus and his first followers proclaimed the gospel to unbelievers.
But, have you thought about how Jesus and his first followers proclaimed the good news in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts? From what I can tell, the way that they proclaimed the gospel (at least what we read) is alot different than the way that we generally find today.
In fact, from what I have experiences, many Christians today rely more on the Epistles to proclaim the good news than on the Gospels or Acts. But, the passages quoted from the Epistles were written for people who were already believers. (I’m not saying that is wrong or invalid. I’m simply saying it’s something that I’ve noticed and find interesting and perhaps peculiar.)
In my next post, I’m going to look at a few examples of “gospel presentation” in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, but for now, I have a question for you:
From your reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, what are some aspects of proclaiming the gospel do you think were important for Jesus and his first followers?